Survivor's Kellee Kim Speaks Out Inappropriate Conduct Controversy

Survivor Kellee Kim CBS

(Image credit: Robert Voets / CBS)

Kellee Kim is speaking out after the inappropriate conduct controversy that rocked Survivor. First, a quick recap of what happened. Kellee Kim expressed her issues with being touched by fellow Survivor contestant Dan Spilo. In a controversial strategy, Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel exaggerated similar feelings, voicing them to Kellee and Janet Carbin.

Survivor host Jeff Probst explained how the reality competition series handled the Dan situation behind-the-scenes. In the two-hour November 13, 2019 installment of Survivor, things with Dan reached a boiling point. While Missy and Elizabeth told Kellee that they felt equally bothered by Dan’s touching, it turned out to be a part of their “game.”

It was a Survivor strategy to convince Kellee they were voting out Dan when they were really voting out Kellee. Missy and Elizabeth shared their inaccurate feelings with Dan's good ally to that point: Janet. Believing Kellee, Missy, and Elizabeth, Janet agreed to vote Dan out.

So, in a Survivor shocker, it turned out that Kellee was voted out instead. Asked how it feels to revisit the events of that Survivor episode seven months after they occurred, Kellee told EW:

As shown in the first episode, I told Dan that I didn’t like being touched and asked him to respect my personal boundaries. Not shown is that Janet also had a conversation with him in the first 6 days, saying it’s not the same for me to touch younger women as it is for you. However, Dan was part of our core alliance and to risk alienating him was to risk my allies and my game. I tried to address the issue and move forward with the game. I can leave this show feeling proud of that. Speaking up for myself and others took a lot of courage, because there was always the risk that I wasn’t going to be believed. That’s why it’s important to support them and speak up for them. I am grateful to those who supported me and took a stand for me.

Kellee Kim acknowledges her gratitude to those who believed her. She also said that Survivor did not show a conversation between one-time allies Janet and Dan. Kellee explained that within the first six days, Janet had pointed out to Dan that his touching of women was different from hers. Why did Survivor leave that out?

On another note, according to Jeff Probst, Survivor producers had a meeting with Dan. In that meeting, they gave him an “official warning” that he must respect personal boundaries. Survivor’s warning to Dan came as a surprise to Kellee. While the show is unfolding now, it was all taped seven months ago.

It is only from watching Survivor: Island of the Idols that Kellee learned that Survivor had taken that step. The meeting between producers and Dan took place privately. On finding out while watching the episode of Survivor that producers did issue a personal warning, Kellee said:

I did not know about Dan getting a personal warning until I watched the episode. If production was going to give Dan an official warning, they should have just pulled him from the game or at least informed me so that I was aware of how it might impact the game.

Kellee not being made aware of Survivor warning Dan certainly had an impact. Survivor is a reality show about people with a competitive angle that employs strategies and mental maneuvering so one can “survive.” Without knowing what Dan had been told by producers, it certainly affected what Kellee could know heading into the next steps of the game.

It is another twist in the reality show. Remember, Survivor did not know about Kellee Kim’s personal connection to another competitor. Since the season premiered, it has seen some dramatic moments and explosive reactions to contestants being voted off. There should be more fallout to come!

Find out what happens next when new episodes of Survivor air Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. The hit reality competition is one of the many series airing fresh this fall.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.